Black Ferns clinch series

By Kris Shannon

New Zealand scored a late try to secure a series win over England. Photo / Getty Images
New Zealand scored a late try to secure a series win over England. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand 14
England 9

The Black Ferns produced a moment of magic in the 81st minute to snatch victory from England at Waikato Stadium tonight, clinching the three-match series with a game to play.

England appeared to have levelled the ledger after a third penalty gave them a 9-7 lead with five minutes to play, but Selica Winiata capped the game's best move with New Zealand's second try.

The hooter had gone when the Black Ferns began an attack inside their own 22 but, after Portia Woodman slipped a couple of tackles, Winiata out-sprinted the desperate covering defence to win the game and series.

"I just pinned my ears back, didn't look back and went for that white line,'' Winiata said. "You could just hear the crowd getting behind me and I didn't know if there was someone right on my back or not, so I just pinned my ears back and went.''

The length of the field try was in contrast with the rest of the match, which looked set to be decided by the boot of England first five Katy McLean.

The Black Ferns began the series with a 29-10 victory on Saturday, but handling errors and constant penalties hampered momentum tonight.

But the hosts' backs came alive in the second half and Woodman was a constant threat on the right wing. The sevens standout scored the opening try, went close on another couple of occasions, and set up the winner as New Zealand exploited their dominance out wide.

It certainly didn't begin that way, with England emerging in front from a dire first half completely devoid of try-scoring opportunities, as both sides struggled to string phases together.

The tourists were at least good value for their 6-0 lead, having spent a good portion of the opening stanza camped in the Black Ferns' half. New Zealand, meanwhile, looked willing to spread the ball among the backs when the opportunity came but they were hamstrung by poor set pieces.

They even failed to capitalise against 14 players after Jo McGilchrist was sin-binned for a tip tackle on Kelly Brazier, one of the rare instances of English referee Clare Daniels ruling against the visitors.

Vast improvements were required in the second spell and the early signs were promising for the Black Ferns. But with points at a premium, the onus was on goal-kicking and Brazier missed her first attempt from the right of the posts.

The Black Ferns didn't let the miss faze them, though, and a fine break from Winiata put Woodman over in the corner for the game's first try and the Black Ferns' first lead.

McLean's third penalty looked to have won the game before Winiata and Woodman combined again to devastating effect.

"It's just amazing,'' Winiata said of the series victory. "They're a hard team and they're improving every year. To pull it off at home is something special and it won't be something the girls forget too quickly.''

New Zealand 14 (Woodman, Winiata try; Brazier 2 cons)
England 9 (McLean 3 pens)
HT: 0-6

- APNZ

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